A two-pronged initiative to support women in farm families and promote Australian-made food has been launched in the south-west by rural help group Aussie Helpers.
The initiative comes as south-west dairy community support workers say there has been no decline in requests for assistance from struggling dairy families despite this season’s lift in milk prices.
Dairy community support worker Ann-Marie Byrne, who was employed by the state government in response to last year’s dairy crisis, said she was still seeing about six farm families a week in need of assistance.
Ms Byrne said the families were “still feeling the pinch” from the crash in milk prices last year.
She said many families would take two to three years to rebuild their dairy herds after culling numbers last year following the price crash.
The help she was providing to families ranged from groceries to fuel, mental health support and relationship counselling, Ms Byrne said.
The ongoing ramifications of last year’s dairy crisis prompted Aussie Helpers to this week launch a “Breakfast in a Bag” initiative that will provide events to give women from south-west farming families a chance to relax and get advice about handling stress.
The initiative will provide ladies luncheons in Warrnambool, Colac and Portland.
Aussie Helpers spokeswoman Debbie Parsons, of Geelong, said the luncheons would provide pamper sessions for women, a light lunch and advice on how to cope with everyday stress. Those taking part will also be given a bag containing breakfast items that are Australian-made.
Ms Parsons said Aussie Helpers also wanted to convey to the public the message about the importance of buying Australian-made products by asking them to donate non-perishable Australian-made breakfast items for the events.
People can donate the items at Bendigo Bank branches at Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Camperdown, Cobden, Colac, Heywood and Portland until August 17.
A Bendigo Bank spokeswoman said people could drop into a participating Bendigo Bank branch during that time to collect a bag and a brochure that outlined the non-perishable breakfast food items being sought.
The luncheons will be held at Colac on August 7 and at Warrnambool on August 21 with a third event at Portland a few weeks later.
Aussie Helpers volunteer Lyndy Morris of Heywood said the group was also still receiving many requests from struggling south-west dairy farm families.